A client recently asked curl expert Christo to cut her shoulder-length curls short.
"The first thing I asked her was when she had made the decision," recalls Christo of New York's Christo Fifth Avenue. "I told her to go home and think about it, and to put a picture of a short haircut up on her refrigerator so she could get used to the idea."
Two months later, the client came back.
"She was ready," he says. "I gave her a great short haircut, and she looked like a model."
Going short is a fun way to change your look, and a perfect way to cool down for summer. And defined, shorter shapes are hot right now, say curl stylists.
But they caution, short hair is not for everybody.
It's a decision that must be carefully considered. Once it's short, it can take months -- possibly years -- to grow out. Just think back to the TV show "Felicity," and the stir actress Keri Russell created when she cut off her long ringlets.
"There is no 'Plan B.'" says Jonathan Torch of Toronto's Curly Hair Institute. "Growing out a bad haircut is always a long and miserable experience, so careful consideration is a must."
Stylists agree that not everyone looks good with short hair. An in-depth consultation is a must. Make sure your stylist is trained in cutting short hair. It’s best to get a referral from someone who has used this stylist in the past and you liked the results of their short curly hair cut. A good stylist will look at a client's bone structure and hair type before making the decision to cut it short.
"You need to take into consideration the shape of the head, bumps, ridges, flat spots, ear size, neck length and any other facial features that need to be enhanced or camouflaged," Torch says. "The tighter the curl, the more volume is achieved so you shouldn't go too short."
"I look at a woman from the feet up," says Jason Kearns of Kearns Davidson Hair & Skin Salon in Toronto, Ontario. "If somebody is too tall or big, you can't take the hair too short. You need the fullness and length for balance."
Christo says he always has a long talk with a client who wants to go short. He wants to make sure he knows exactly what she wants. He pulls back their hair and looks at closely at its texture, and the structure of the face. Before he picks up the scissors, he wants to make sure that client will look good with short hair.
"If you're looking for something fresh and new, it's a great way to go," Christo says. "But the stylist needs to take a big step back and see if that person can carry a short haircut before they do it. It's a huge step. If you do it and they hate it, you end up losing a good client."
Torch believes a woman needs a tremendous amount of confidence to carry off a short, curly hair style. To prepare yourself for how you'll look with short hair, look in the mirror and twist your hair up. Position the hair at the length you want. Be aware that your hair may be much curlier when length is removed.
"I can tell when someone has the conviction to cut it short," says Lorraine Massey of Devachan Salon. "If there's any trepidation or doubt, there's no way I'm going to cut it. I'll tell them to think about it."
She suggests doing a short cut in stages. Maybe she'll cut it slightly shorter one day to see if that's what they really want. They might come back the next day to have more taken off. One client came in with chin-length curls. Within one haircut, her hair went gradually shorter until she ended up with a "faux hawk."
"We did it together," Massey says. "And we ended up with a really cool shape that the client was happy with."
Massey urges those going short to have their hair cut dry to make sure it doesn't end up too short. "As a stylist, you're sculpting," she says. "If it's wet, you have no control over how that shape may look when it's dry."
There are several style options for short curls, depending on your curl type and the shape of your face. Graduated bobs look good with looser curls. For tighter curls, a stylish look is longer on top and shorter at the nape.
Torch likes to control the perimeter of the hair, allowing more "chaos on top." He also likes to leave bangs as long as possible to frame the face, with it shorter on the sides and in back.
"My short styles are very sexy -- not cute," Torch says. "I try to maintain as much movement as possible and try to avoid those traditional short, accurate, mannish cuts that take forever to grow out."
With a short haircut, you will probably have to adjust your products. Since dry, damaged hair has been cut off, your hair may need a lighter conditioner than the one you've been using.
Gels, mousses and pomades are excellent styling products on short curly hair. You probably will have to learn how to style it differently, which may take a little time to master. Have your stylist show you how to work with the new length.
"The short cut is for someone with curly hair who wants to be wash-and-go, but who also wants to be stylish," Christo says. "You lose the flexibility of getting different looks and styles. But you also gain because your hair will be quicker and easier to style. And the good news is, hair does grow back if you don't like it."